Lee Akins was born in Texas but spent most of his early years in Taiwan. After he received his BFA in Ceramics from The Dayton Art Institute in 1975, Lee moved to Taiwan to teach K-12 art. In 1979, he returned to Texas and taught ceramics in the Dallas County Community College and then at Collin College in Plano. Lee completed his MFA in 1986 at Southern Methodist University. In 2008 he retired early and moved to New Mexico to become a full time studio potter.
Lee coil builds terracotta, creating vessels and sculptures influenced by his time in Asia. Archetypal forms are covered with matt patina surfaces. Lee says of his work:
“My work seeks to combine figurative imagery with the format of the traditional clay vessel. The vessel has historically been a powerful metaphor for the body, with each part of the pot being named for the corresponding area of the body. A full lip, a gentle curve of the neck, a rotund belly or a broad shoulder all combine to provide animation to the pot. Some of my pieces are predominantly male, some are a synthesis of male and female but most are female forms inspired by fertility figures found in most early cultures. The Venus of Willendorf and the stone carvings of the Cycladic culture are some of the most powerful to me. My most recent work strives toward an elegant organic form, one that is obviously a hand-made object but has an internal natural order.”
“My pieces are coil-built out of terra cotta clay. Coiling allows me to control the form while the joining marks provide an inherent rhythm to the surface. The terra-cotta gives me a warmth to the colors, yet allows a wide choice of finishes. Peeling paint and mossy rocks provide sources of inspiration for the color and textures of my work.”